History of Governance and Our Latest Evolution:
Our history as an organization shows a movement towards a governance board model, diverging from a ‘working board’. As quoted from the section, Explaining the Governance Model: Governance is concerned with setting a direction and maintaining guideposts (policies and targets) for management to carry out the direction of the board. The governance model provides a foundation and infrastructure that ensures the longterm success and sustainability to carry on the mission of the organization.
The ‘working board’ model was not sustainable. Under this model, directors held ‘managerial’ positions and the volume of work to advance the organization to adapt to a changing world increased exponentially. Due to the complexity of our organization, the work done by directors had become too complex for a working board model. In other words, managing time and resources to perform both governance and operations responsibilities in a complex, multi-faceted organization is an impossible task for directors. As directors are volunteers as well, it was not prudent nor sustainable to manage this amount of work given the time commitment that we expect of them.
Previous boards have tried to address this challenge by effecting gradual, evolving responses and providing opportunities for solutions from both outside and within our organization:
- 2014: Particularly with the addition of Children’s World (beginning in 2012 with its requisite licensing requirements), a task force reviewed the board model. The task force found that the increase in the volume of work became too much for the directors to coordinate with volunteer hours. The decision was made to move toward a governance model with hired managers, including a general manager. This model was implemented, but did not bring the success that was expected.
- May 2019: The current board decided to revisit the fundamental structures and understand how this model could work. We studied board fundamentals with the assistance of Vantage Point, an organization that transforms the non-profit sector through embracing best practices in governance and learned about what necessary changes were required.
- August 2019: The board hired a board advisor/consultant, Wayne Robert, to begin implementing the necessary changes.
- October 2019: An Interim Executive Director, Catarina Moreno, was hired to prepare the organization’s structures, systems and personnel for a successful transition to a permanent ED.
- March 2020: The interim Executive Director position ended with the hiring of a permanent Executive Director, Darius Maze.
During the transition period, we worked towards a structure that offered consistency and clarification, and made the planning and execution of programs and projects much less complicated and more well-informed. We used our experience, guidance and the experiences of other similar organizations to deal with underlying issues that may have slowed our progress.
As the Executive Director (Senior Manager) effectively lead the operations management of the overall organization, the board was able to take the opportunity to focus on governance matters and begin to set broad strategies and future direction, as well as provide oversight of risk management, financial sustainability, and job performance of the Executive Director.
In 2020, the Board of Directors addressed concerns about accountability, transparency and meaningful participation of all members of our community by embarking on upgrading the bylaws. The board recognized that this was the next step in order to continue building a strong policy foundation for effectiveness, access and fairness. By designing policies that clearly outline processes and procedures and that focus on results, we aimed to forge a path for creating an abundant future, rather than reviewing the past.
The updated bylaws were intended to support processes by which stakeholders are given appropriate organizational access and input. This would provide clarity on volunteers, committee terms of reference, associations for students, teachers and parents, membership processes, etc. The Board had heard from staff and faculty that they had not had a voice, and similarly, other stakeholders did not have clearly-defined forums to help with defining and achieving our mission. Board members, too, were unable to keep up with the many decisions, both major and minor, that are required to keep the organization sustainable and legally and financially compliant. The hiring of an Executive Director, allowed for the implementation of new systems, policies and oversight, has had an immediate positive impact. To read about the ED’s List of Priorities click here.
- November 5, 2020 Bylaws update Extraordinary General Meeting: It was the Board’s intention for the updated bylaws to provide a clear sense to all stakeholders of their individual roles and obligations. Unfortunately, the updated bylaws were not ratified.
The Board is continuing with its commitment to transparency in achieving its mission and will carry on with its strategic planning process overseeing and setting measures for success and priorities. We are guided by a desire for meaningful participation, transparent, accessible leadership, and sustainable action in fulfilling our mission.
If you’re interested in the history of how the governance of VJLS-JH has evolved since our establishment in 1906, please click here for our organization’s history from a governance perspective.